Mark 7 – Denying

This chapter has one of the hardest passages to deal with in any of the Gospels…verses 24-30…

From there Jesus set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Was Jesus calling this unnamed woman a dog? Was he saying that all she and her people deserved were the scraps that fell from the table? It sure feels that way doesn’t it? There was a time in my life that I would have wanted to desperately find a way to explain this away (and there’s lots of explanations out there) but what if Jesus was having a bad day? What if Jesus was tired? What if he was hangry and needed a Snickers? What if this woman in her desperate plea for Jesus to heal her daughter taught Jesus something and that he saw something in her that changed him? I wish I had an explanation that fully satisfied because none of the “explain it away” ones really feel right and the one that I shared creates a lot of other questions.

But one thing that I do know is that we do too much denying of others, either intentionally or otherwise. We spend a lot of time finding ways to say no to others rather than finding ways of saying yes. I have done it and I have had it done to me. And there are people who have experienced this far more regularly than I. This woman was a child of God just as anyone else of that time or since and I am grateful that she pushed to be sure she was heard and noticed. I am grateful for the people who I have begun to hear and notice who I might have pushed away or tried to ignore in times past and especially for those who have pushed me to hear and see them.

I was saddened this week when I read that former vice-president Biden was denied communion when he attended mass because of his position on abortion rights. (And I would have been saddened similarly if someone on the other side of the political divide was denied communion because of actions they had taken as well). As Christians, our call is to be people who speak truth, yes, but we are called to be people who exemplify and live the generous and radical grace of Jesus. In this passage Jesus maybe needed a bit of a push to hear this woman but he did and her daughter was healed. Sometimes we all need that push.

I took this picture across the street from me. It was not the kind of bloom I expected to see in late October and honestly, it was tiny compared to the other flowers and plants around it. But I am grateful that I saw it out of the corner of my eye and stopped and took in the stunning beauty of this bloom…

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